Nightfood, Inc., Tarrytown, N.Y., released findings from a new Harris Poll online survey, conducted on their behalf with over 2,000 U.S. adults, on consumer night snacking and sleep quality.

Nearly 83% of U.S. consumers report snacking at least one night a week, and 20% of consumers report snacking every night. The most popular nighttime snack choices overall are salty snacks such as chips, popcorn and pretzels (84%), baked goods such as cookies, cake and donuts (80%), candy such as chocolate, gummies and hard candies (76%) and ice cream (75%).

“Bringing these percentages into actual numbers projects to hundreds of millions of nighttime snack occasions per week in the United States,” says Sean Folkson, chief executive officer of Nightfood.  “Twenty percent of U.S. adult consumers report snacking every night, so that alone would project to more than 355,434,701 snacking occasions weekly. Add to that all the people who snack some or most nights and then the sporadic people, and you’re potentially going to double that number. Certainly we have some people under 18 also snacking at night, so we think it’s reasonable that the total likely approaches 800,000,000 nighttime snacks each week or more. Some nights it’s cookies, some night chips, some nights ice cream, but we’re talking hundreds of millions of snack occasions every week, and we believe easily over a billion dollars a week.”

The poll also revealed that 51% of U.S. consumers who snack at night feel unhealthy night snacking is a major challenge for them, 58% say they wish they felt more in control of their nighttime snacking, 54% of nighttime snackers report often feeling guilty about their nighttime snack choices and 64% report eating healthier earlier in the day than they do closer to bedtime.

“These results suggest actual emotional and psychological pain that people are experiencing on a long-term, ongoing basis related to their night snacking behaviors,” says Dr. Lauren Broch, a Nightfood advisor. “For the first time, we’re getting a peek at the true depth of the problem. It’s about more than carbs and calories, or even sleep quality; it’s also about how people feel about themselves.”  

Only 22% of U.S. consumers who snack at night report sleeping very well. 

“Trying to fight against your biological programming will always be a losing battle,” adds Folkson. “Every week, consumers are spending over a billion dollars across hundreds of millions of nighttime snack sessions, and yet we’re generally pretty miserable about it. The more we discover about the biology and the psychology that drives unhealthy night snacking, the more excited I am about the positive impact we can have on the lives of consumers all across the country and around the world.”

Survey method

This survey was conducted online within the United States by The Harris Poll on behalf of Nightfood from Dec. 12-16, among 2,017 U.S. adults ages 18 and older, among whom 1,891 snack at night.